Heroism has been defined very differently through out history and even to this day it takes on different views. People view a heroic person as someone who is strong, brave and self-less, daring and dependable. Tennyson defines heroism in a classical context, in which Ulysses is portrayed as a man with passion for adventure and a man who wants to fight many battles and explore many seas with his mariners. Tennyson's Ulysses is an individual who yearns for knowledge and self fulfillment. The notion one gets from reading "Ulysses" by Tennyson is that Ulysses is a heroic man who is known to all, is strong and brave and has fought many battles. The characteristics of Ulysses described by Tennyson fits in what people perceive as a heroic person, because people often believe that heroism has to do with physical strength and ability. In comparison to Tennyson's "Ulysses," Millay portrays Penelope, Ulysses' wife as the true hero through her poem "An Ancient Gesture."
Millay describes Penelope as a wife who endured difficult times and waited patiently for her husbands return. Millay's Penelope is a woman who holds inner strength, will power, loyalty and wisdom. By reading Millay's poem one gets this notion that heroism is not really about physical strength and abilities, and that heroism goes beyond what meets the eye.
In "Ulysses," Tennyson talks about Ulysses journey back to Ithaca, where he fights in many battles and sails across dark broad seas. As said "Drunk delight of battle with my peers, far on the ringing plains of windy troy," (line 16, 17) is implying that Ulysses enjoyed fighting in battles and that he wouldn't mind doing it again. It is also mentioned in "Ulysses," that Ulysses encountered bad stormy weather,